Friday, February 24, 2012

Dealing with Dark Waters

Hello Friends:

I mentioned in my last post that I had a whole dang list of things to write about and what with one thing and another, I hadn't manged to get my act together.  Far be it from me to suggest my act is actually coalescing, yet here is a post.

One of the reasons this winter has been so tough is something that happened early on, in December.  I'm feeling a little better about it, now, having had some time and some tdoc sessions to deal with it.  But I still feel a touch haunted, literally and figuratively.

We went on a cruise for the holidays, and overall it was a great experience.  We left on Christmas Eve, had dinner, did some partying, then went to bed.  We were not asleep.  I remember the moment when I felt something shift in the movement of the ship.  It was just after midnight, Christmas Day.  Then we heard an announcement in the hall using some kind of code.  The feeling was like a tingle of static energy, subtle, but my hands felt cold.  My feet numb.  Part of my mind recognized it immediately as a shock or panic reaction.  The other part said, clearly, to the rest of my mind, "Someone is overboard."

About ten minutes later, there was another announcement in the hall.  I know now that people who were asleep at the time didn't hear it at all.  But we were awake.  I was wide awake, in fact.  This announcement said clearly that there was a "man overboard situation" and the ship had moved into a search pattern.

We got up.  I went out onto the balcony, not because I thought I could see anything from ten stories up in a massive cruise ship at night.  I went out because I felt compelled.  The sea wasn't high, but neither was it calm.  We could see the lights of the coast maybe fifteen miles off, and another cruise ship searching in a wide circle, as we were.  It was hard to get your mind around.  Inside my head it said, "Someone is in that water."  I felt in my heart that the person had jumped intentionally.  It would have happened just at midnight.  The ship was not lurching.  I didn't think they had fallen by accident, although I had no proof or evidence either way.

I was so, so sad.  Am sad.  No matter how suicidal I have ever been, jumping into the sea has never been one of my options for offing myself.  Incredibly despairing and sad, to see a dark, yawning ocean and wonder at the mind of someone who leaped right into it.  I was in pain for that person, and for myself, knowing that feeling of empty grief.  All night long, the ship moved in a large circle.  It made the boat sway in a fashion I had not yet felt on a ship.  For the rest of the cruise, whenever the boat turned, it brought the feelings back up in an instant.

Nine hours later, there was another announcement.  It was at breakfast, and this was how most people learned that someone had gone over.  The Captain claimed that a staff member jumped overboard, and after nine hours, the Coast Guard had released the cruise ships from the search.  You could see helicopters still circling, but the ships were now moving away.  The Captain said that three orange life rings had been thrown over, and all three had been recovered.  But not the person in question.  And that was about it.

The way the incident was ignored on board for the rest of the trip was disturbing.  I was more disturbed by how hard it was to learn anything about it at all, even after we got back.  I ended up on some cruise watchdog sites before I even found the press releases about the incident.  I also found posts from family members of the woman who was lost.  Her family was absolutely certain she would not have jumped - she had a one year old child, was married, her husband was also a staff member on the same ship, they had just been shopping for presents, etc.  Her family was outraged at the 'accusation' that the woman had jumped.  The company was saying they had an 'eye witness.'  But no witness had come forth, and the company was apparently not releasing the tapes they have of everything that goes on everywhere on a ship.  I'm pretty convinced they must have caught it on tape.  The company would want it to be a suicide, since that would absolve them of any responsibility.  The family would want it to be an accident, for a million reasons, of course.

This was the point at which I was finally able to get together with my tdoc (recall I was really sick with a combined ear/sinus infection for weeks).  I still do not know what has come of this situation.  My tdoc helped me to see that obsessing over it, when it was unlikely to ever come to a resolution, was not a really good use of my time, or of my sanity.  But I remain distressed.  First, by the idea that a person drowned on Christmas Day.  Second, and more tangled, is this idea that justice has not been done.  Or found.  Or achieved.  Or something.  Why can't the family get some kind of closure from the cruise company, one way or another?  Why can't I?  How frustrating.

Frustrating that the chance we will ever know what happened is about zero.  And still haunting, that sight of an ocean - dark, abyssal, open caverns of arching waves.  It's another in so many kinds of incidents that ask me to accept and move on.  No answers.  No formula.  No meaning or reason. 

I am really tired of these sorts of lessons.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: Waves by Mados on Flikr via Creative Commons, CC 2.0

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Derailed by the Rains of Winter

Hello Friends: 

I had all sorts of nifty ideas for this post.  I've been out of circulation, first for holiday vacation, and then for a month dealing with a combined ear and sinus infection.  Yee haw.  That and some 'fun' times at the pdoc and tdoc have given me plenty to write about.

But I've been derailed.

I've lost another friend to cancer.  Another colleague.  I'm just too sad and angry to write about anything else.  I want to throw up my hands at the universe and say "Enough!"  I know the reality.  I'm not a kid anymore, far from it.  So my contemporaries aren't kids, either.  Statistically speaking, every year that goes by means ... well ... it's obvious what it means.  I just don't want to deal with this fact, that each year more and more people will leave.  I have enough abandonment fears already, okay?

I don't want to rant or harp on this too much.  No point, really.  It just hurts.

Instead I'll say something about how she approached her cancer, and how it gave me some help dealing with my own chronic illnesses, of the mental kind.  She felt that pressure a lot of us feel, that same pressure to put a good face on, to smile, even through terrible pain.  I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.  She made a point of saying that facing an illness with courage did not mean never being sad, angry, or irritable.  It helped me feel more at peace with the idea that it is okay to show the pain and confusion of illness, healing, and recovery.  The process of living with illness is messy, and hiding that fact is a disservice.  Sometimes you smile, sometimes you frown.  That's okay.  That's life.

So I'll say I am not feeling very okay right now.   

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: Rain on Window, teresaphillips1965 on Flikr via Creative Commons, CC 2.0

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